Category Archives: Compliance

Questions For Andrew Puzder, Trump Nominee for Labor Secretary

 

(Post by Rick Dacri, January 12, 2017)

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President-Elect Trump has nominated Andrew Puzder for Secretary of Labor. Puzder is a successful businessperson, lawyer, and CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of fast food chain’s Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.

The mission of Labor is “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” They are also responsible for investigating minimum wage violations, overtime infractions, and worker safety laws.

Puzder has taken positions in opposition to many of the regulations the DOL oversees, including the federal minimum wage, worker eligibility for overtime, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and sick leave polices.

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to begin confirmation hearings on Puzder in February.

I have put together 18 questions that I believe the Senate should ask the nominee:

  1. What qualifies you to be the next Secretary of Labor?
  2. You have opposed the raising of the federal minimum wage. Why? What do you believe is an adequate minimum wage?
  3. You indicated a proposed $15 minimum wage would force businesses to automate their operations and thereby eliminate jobs. Do you believe that a minimum wage increase drives the need for automation or is automation a tool for productivity? If wages collapsed, would businesses stop automating?
  4. According to the Economic Policy Institute, CEO pay has grown 90 times faster than the typical worker pay since 1978. Due to this unequal growth, average top CEOs now make over 300 times what typical workers earn. Do believe wage disparity is a problem in this country and what, if anything, should Labor or the Trump administration do about this?
  5. The Department of Labor oversees the federal wage and hour division, which ensures that workers are paid for all the hours they work. Yet in California, your franchise restaurants have been fined over $20 million for wage and hour violations. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  6. A Roc United survey given to your franchise store employees in California, found that a third of those employees were not given meal breaks after working at least 5 hours, in violation of the state’s worker break laws. 79% said they also served or prepared food while they were sick. Can you address these issues and what steps did you take to remedy these problems in franchises you control. Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce break laws?
  7. You are also on record opposing sick leave policies, yet many workers in your franchise restaurants are preparing and serving food while sick. Are you concerned about endangering both your customers and employees? Should sick leave laws be mandated?
  8. Bloomberg did an investigation of your company’s franchises. They found that in 60% of the DOL investigations in your restaurants, there were minimum wage and overtime violations. Again, can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem? Secondly, what steps will the DOL take, under your reign, to enforce wage and hour laws?
  9. President-Elect Trump has indicated he supports 6 weeks of paid maternity leave. You have stated that mandatory leave creates undue burdens on business. How directly do leaves create a burden, and as Labor Secretary, will you support or ignore the President-Elect’s initiative?
  10. According to a review of inspection records with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration since 2000, the year your took over as chief executive of CKE, Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations have incurred at least 98 safety violations, 36 of them listed as serious. OSHA defines a “serious” violation as one that could result in death or grave physical harm that the employer should have been aware of. Can you address this issue and what steps did you take to remedy this problem in franchises you control? Secondly, since OSHA and worker safety fall under DOL’s responsibility, what steps will the DOL take to enforce these laws?
  11. Your company has introduced commercials that include women wearing skimpy bikinis and lingerie while eating burgers. In response, you stated in a 2015 Entrepreneur interview, “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American. I used to hear, brands take on the personality of the CEO. And I rarely thought that was true, but I think this one, in this case, it kind of did take on my personality.” My questions, is this your personality, as you stated? Do you believe these ads objectify women? What kind of tone does this set in your workplaces?
  12. 2/3 of female workers in restaurants operated by you, claim that they have been sexually harassed by your customers. Many employees indicated that these customers mentioned those ads. Were you aware of this and what is your plan to address this?
  13. Do you believe that sexual harassment in the workplace is a legitimate issue and what steps should employers take to eradicate it?
  14. Are there any federal labor laws that you would eliminate and if so, which ones and why?
  15. Do you believe there are any new labor laws that should be initiated? What are they and why are they needed?
  16. President-Elect Trump stated that he would like to eliminate unemployment compensation fraud. How big a problem is it and how could you eliminate it? Please be specific.
  17. You have opposed the Affordable Care Act. What specifically is the problem with the Act? Are their components of it that you would like to keep? What would you replace the Act with, what would it cover and not cover, and will it be cheaper than the current ACA?
  18. You have stated that we should cut government benefit programs because workers turn down promotions to keep such benefits, such as food stamps. Please explain this and tell us how wide-spread a problem this is?

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Final Overtime Rules for Private & Public Sector Employers

 

Unknown(Post by Rick Dacri, June 1, 2016)

The Department of Labor’s (U.S. DOL) changes to overtime eligibility have been approved and are scheduled for a December 1, 2016 implementation. The waiting is over and all employers need to immediately prepare. No one will be able to avoid this.

I have outlined below a summary of the changes that apply to both private and public sector employees. Remember, this is a summary and does not constitute a complete review of all the changes to the rules nor should it be considered legal advice.

The Final Rule focuses primarily on updating the salary and compensation levels needed for Executive, Administrative and Professional workers to be exempt. Specifically, the Final Rule:

  1. Sets the salary threshold under which employees would be nonexempt—required to receive overtime pay (regular hourly rate x 1.5 for all hours worked beyond 40 hours per week) at $913 per week or $47,476 annually for a full-year worker, more than doubling the salary threshold from the current level of $23,660.
  2. Sets the total annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees (HCE) subject to a minimal duties test, to $134,004; and
  3. Establishes a mechanism for automatically updating the salary and compensation levels every three years.
  4. Additionally, the Final Rule amends the salary basis test to allow employers to use nondiscretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level.

Earning above the $47,476 annual ($913 per week) salary level do not automatically classify an employee as exempt from mandatory overtime pay, as the duties test still comes into play.

This is a significant change to the law and all employers should review their plans now, before the December 1, 2016 implementation. Don’t wait, as changes will be complex and contain plenty of pitfalls.

To avoid problems with existing exempt workers currently being paid less than the new threshold, your options include:

  1. Reclassify affected workers as nonexempt, or
  2. Increase the employees’ salaries to at least $47,476, or
  3. Reduce the hours of these workers, or
  4. Pay a lower hourly rate so that, when multiplied by time-and-one half, weekly compensation remains unchanged

As I have noted in previous posts, none of these steps are ideal and are likely to result in employee relation issues and increased payroll costs. To make matters worse, the DOL has stepped up enforcement, expecting to dole of the law out fines, attorney fees and back pay for violations.

Rules for State and Local Governments:

The FLSA contains several provisions unique to state and local governments, including compensatory time off, under certain provisions.

  • Comp Time: State or local government agencies may arrange for their employees to earn comp time instead of cash payment for overtime hours.
  • Fire and police small-agency exemption: The FLSA also provides an exemption from overtime protection for fire protection or law enforcement employees, if they are employed by an agency that employs fewer than five fire protection or law enforcement employees, respectively.
  • Work periods rather than workweeks for fire protection or law enforcement employees: Employees engaged in fire protections or law enforcement may be paid overtime on a “work week period” basis, rather than the usual 40-hour work week of the FLSA.

Not Affected by Changes:

Many employees won’t be affected by the final rule:

  1. Hourly workers: The new threshold will have no impact on the pay of workers paid hourly.
  2. Workers with regular workweeks of 40 or fewer hours: To the extent that many salaried white-collar staff have jobs where they work no more than 40 hours, the changes to the overtime rules will have no effect on their pay.
  3. Law enforcement and fire protection employees who regularly work hours that conform to the longer work periods permitted for such employees, the changes will also not impact their pay.
  4. Workers who fail the duties test: Salaried workers who do not primarily perform executive, administrative, or professional duties are not eligible for the white-collar overtime exemption and therefore are not affected by the final rule.
  5. Highly compensated workers: White collar workers who fail the standard duties test but are “highly compensated”—earn more than $134,004 in a year—are almost all ineligible for overtime under the highly compensated employee exemption, which has a minimal duties test.
  6. Police and fire employees in small agencies: Fire protection or law enforcement employees in public agencies with fewer than five fire protection or law enforcement employees respectively will continue to be exempt from overtime.
  7. Elected officials, their policymaking appointees, and their personal staff and legal advisors who are not subject to civil service laws
  8. Public employees who have a comp time arrangement

To avoid problems and lawsuits:

  • Audit your compensation program and pay practices for compliance
  • Review the classification of all exempt workers, particularly those being paid under $47,476
  • Put in place a safe harbor policy, which states that if an employee feels he/she has been incorrectly paid, to bring it to your attention for review.

Develop a plan now to implement before the December 1 deadline. If you have questions, contact the Dacri HR HelpLine.

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Workers’ Comp: What’s My “Mod”?

images(Post by Rick Dacri, April 14, 2016)

When discussing your workers’ compensation premiums, you’ll often hear about the importance of reducing your “mod.” But what is a mod? Your “mod” is your Experience Modification Rating. It is the number used by your insurance company to gauge both the past cost of injuries and the future chance of your risk of additional injuries. The lower the mod, the lower your workers’ comp premiums.

Here is a quick way of looking at it. Ask your insurance carrier what your mod is. If your experience mod is 1.00, you’re doing OK. If it is less than 1.00, that’s great and obviously desirable You’re saving money and running a safe operation. If it is greater than 1.00, you’ve got work to do, as this is costing you.

As an example, if your mod is .90, than you are 10% below your industry standard. If you are at 1.10, you are 10% above the industry standard. In the former case, your premiums will begin to drop. In the latter, you will find you are in a “penalty phase” in you rates will go up.

If you don’t know what your current experience modification rating is, contact your insurance carrier to find out.  If you need help reducing it, call me.

Other Posts you might want to read:

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How To Quickly Cut Your Workers’ Comp Costs & Get Injured Employees Back to Work

Dacri-FB-WebWorkersComp

This program has been postponed

Wednesday, April 20
2PM ET
60 minute webinar
Register Today via email at rick@dacri.com or call

207-229-5954

This webinar is ideal for:

  • CEOs & Finance Managers who want to reduce costs
  • HR & Benefit Managers who want to understand how workers’ comp works
  • Managers & Supervisors who want to reduce accidents & get injured workers back to work

Here’s what you’ll learn in this webinar:

  • How to control workers’ comp costs
  • How to get your experience modification below 1
  • How to spot & prevent fraud
  • How to get injured employees back to work quickly
  • How to manage a light duty program effectively
  • How to manage claims
  • How to analyze an accident
  • How to develop a positive working relationship with your medical provider & insurer
  • How to easily understand the intricacies of workers’ comp

This webinar will provide you with the information and advice you need to develop a pre and post injury response program so you can have a safe workplace and low workers’ comp costs.

Once again, to enroll, email me at rick@dacri.com or call 207-229-5954

Cost? $125.00. Not a bad investment for learning how to save a bundle while creating a safer workplace. And Dacri & Associates’ clients receive an automatic 10% discount.

Sign up now.

I hope to see you there,

Rick Dacri
Dacri & Associates, LLC
http://www.dacri.com
rick@dacri.com

P.S. We will be recording the entire program (audio and visual). Your admission gives you access to the recording for easy reviewing after the fact.

Register Now via email at rick@dacri.com or call 207-229-5954.

Feedback from Previous Webinar Attendees:
It was excellent, clear, easy to understand and follow; applicable in many areas and overall very interesting. Thank you
EXCELLENT as Rick Dacri always is!
This was incredibly informative and I would love to attend more!
The program is great because it triggers you to look into areas of the organization that need improvement.
Thank you, Rick. Well paced and informative.
Nice work Rick! Enjoyed the presentations.
Great information to have for managing a business. You are a great resource for questions.
Great tips and information.
As always, a wonderful Rick Dacri presentation – just the right amount of information and appropriate stories to illustrate the point.
For an hours time the information covered was very valuable.
The content was incredibly helpful. Found the content on hiring right, training managers to interview well and addressing problematic performance important and useful.
It is good to have a better understanding of the HR side of the business and how to avoid potential problems

Register Now via email at rick@dacri.com or call 207-229-5954

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Workplace Drug Abuse Warning Signs

cocaine(Post written by Rick Dacri, April 4, 2016)

Recently I received a call from one of my utility clients who was positive that his operator was high on cocaine. Seems the employee had been missing work and today he came to work appearing a bit agitated and quite talkative and his pupils were dilated. My client had heard he did drugs and with his recent absences and rumors that he was a druggie, he called me asking if it was ok to fire him.

While the employee might have been on drugs, clinical diagnosis of a drug problem is not the job of the manager. The manager’s job is to assess performance. If the employee was performing erratically, posing a potential danger to himself or others, then the manager has a responsibility to step in; but never to diagnose. Managers are not qualified to do this and acting on rumor or evaluating behavior based on what you may have read on the Internet is asking for trouble. Stick to performance. A key part of every manager’s job is to remain alert to changes in an employee’s performance and to work with the employee who is having problems so that performance improves.

Substance abuse in the workplace is very costly. It’s been estimated that substance abuse costs employers more than $50 billion annually and alcohol and drug abusers are far less productive, use three times as many sick days, and are more than three times as likely to have an accident on the job and five times as likely to file workers’ compensation claims.

While one should never diagnose, managers should be mindful of the warning signs that an employee may be getting into trouble. Watch for these:

  1. Inconsistent work quality
  2. Poor concentration
  3. Lowered productivity
  4. Increased absenteeism
  5. Unexplained disappearances from the jobsite
  6. Carelessness, mistakes
  7. Errors in judgment
  8. Needless risk-taking
  9. Disregard for safety
  10. Extended lunch periods and early departures
  11. Complaints about problems at home
  12. Deterioration in personal appearance
  13. Complaints and excuses of vaguely-defined illnesses
  14. Frequent financial problems
  15. Avoidance of friends and colleagues
  16. Blaming others for own problems and shortcomings

When an employee begins to exhibit these, it is time for the manager to take immediate action. In my upcoming webinar series (How to Deal with Substance Abuse in the Workplace) I will be addressing, in detail, the warning signs, how to handle an impaired employee, the law around medical marijuana, DOT requirements, signs that an employee is under the influence and more.

For more info, click How to Deal with Substance Abuse in the Workplace or email me at rick@dacri.com.

Other Posts You May Want To Read:

  1. Booze At Work: Options to Combat
  2. Medical Marijuana Law
  3. New Maine Pot Law Clouds Rules on Drug Use

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How To Lose Your Next Unemployment Comp Claim

(This post was written by Rick Dacri, April 1, 2016)

face-extreme-1554895There is nothing more frustrating than losing an unemployment compensation claim when you know the employee should not be eligible to collect. Too often, I find supervisors pulling out their hair out and lashing out at the system. How could they let this “bad employee” collect?

Generally, there are 4 disqualifying events for employees:

  1. Fired for misconduct (not performance);
  2. Voluntary quit without good cause attributed to the employment;
  3. Not available or unable to work full-time; and
  4. Not citizen or authorized to work

If any of these events are present, the employee cannot collect unemployment. Now there are nuances and interpretations, but if one of these applies, their claim will be denied.

While the system is not without faults, many times, mistakes are made by employers and ultimately costing them at the hearing. Here are 10 ways that will guarantee you a loss: Continue reading

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Workers’ Comp Fraud, The Red Flags

flag(Post written by Rick Dacri, March 16, 2016)

I received a call from a client bemoaning the fact that one of his “problem employees” was now claiming he hurt his back moving a box. The client is sure that it is fraud, because the day prior, this same employee was put on final warning for absenteeism.

Fraudulent workers’ comp claims can run havoc with any manager and company. While the actual amount of fraud in the system is relatively low (1%-5% of claims), it is still quite costly…and they make managers crazy.

Let’s talk about some of the warning signs that you and your supervisors should watch for. Continue reading

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